An uncontested Florida divorce filed in Broward County or another county in Florida is a divorce where the spouses have reached an agreement about all of the issues in the case – property division, alimony, time-sharing, parental responsibility, and child support if there are children, and any other issues in dispute in the case. There needs to be a signed settlement agreement between the parties addressing the issues, and a Parenting Plan (a special type of settlement agreement addressing issues regarding the children) and proof that both parents attended a court approved parenting course, if there are minor children.
In an uncontested divorce, there still needs to be a divorce Petition filed, and there are number of other pleadings that need to filed and signed by one or both parties, but there is no need to go through the process of having the Respondent in the case served by a process server. The parties have all of the papers prepared, everything gets signed in front of a notary, and then all of the pleadings, including the Petition and Settlement Agreement can be filed with the court all together, at the same time.
An attorney is not permitted to represent both spouses in a divorce. If you hire an attorney to represent you in an uncontested divorce, your attorney can prepare the papers for the divorce; the other spouse then gets a copy of the papers, and is given an opportunity to have them reviewed by their own attorney if they want. There are a few forms the other spouse has to complete, for example their Financial Affidavit and a form called the Answer/Waiver, that are filed with the court. Your attorney cannot prepare these forms for the other spouses, but there are Florida Supreme Court approved forms which can be provided to the other spouse for him or her to complete.
Even in an uncontested divorce, there still needs to be a final hearing in front of the Judge. Only the Petitioner must attend (although the Wife must attend the hearing if she is seeking a name change as part of the divorce). The hearing is usually very brief – often not much longer than a minute or two. The Judge or your attorney will ask you to testify to: whether the marriage is irretrievably broken (Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state and a divorce can go forward if one side wants the divorce and alleges that the marriage is broken, with no chance of being fixed); whether there is a Settlement Agreement, voluntarily signed by the parties (and Parenting Plan if there are children) resolving the issues in the case; and to whether you resided in Florida for the six months immediately preceding filing for a divorce (a requirement to get a divorce in Florida). You should bring your driver’s license with you to the final hearing. There are requirements in the divorce statutes regarding what items need to be included in a Parenting Plan, and the Judge can review the Parenting Plan to be sure the requirements are met. If you are representing yourself in the divorce, you can call the Judge’s assistant or the case manager for your case to inquire about a time and date for your final hearing. Sometimes there is information on the court’s website (Broward County courts) regarding procedures for hearings, or in the voice-mail message you may hear when you call the Judge’s assistant. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney can use the on-line scheduling system that many counties have for attorneys to schedule hearings.
There is one special type of uncontested divorce – a simplified dissolution of marriage, that is worth mentioning. A simplified dissolution of marriage is available if you have a settlement agreement resolving the issues in the case, there are no minor children, and neither party is seeking alimony. In addition, both of you need to go to the Clerk of Court’s office to sign the divorce petition there (not necessarily together at the same time), and you both need to attend the Final Hearing. One unique feature of a Simplified Divorce is that the parties can waive the requirement that they each file a Financial Affidavit, whereas the Financial Affidavit is mandatory in other divorces. The process for scheduling a final hearing is usually a bit more simple for a simplified divorce